Feb 272014
 

Zhana Vrangalova, PhD is presenting “Mostly Straight”: A New Sexual Orientation Group and Is Casual Sex Bad for You? It Depends. Check out Zhana’s bio here.
 

Zhana Vrangalova

1. How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?
I’m primarily a sex researcher. As such, I research topics – casual sex, promiscuity, and mostly heterosexuality – that are often ignored, misunderstood, or shrouded in stereotypes. By getting some scientifically sound information on these topics, I help bring ignored issues to light or dispel incorrect myths. By talking to journalists and writing for broader audiences about the science of these sexual issues, I hope to bridge the gap between science and the general public.

2. Who or what was a catalyst for you?
Growing up in a very double-standard kind of culture in Eastern Europe.

3. What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in the field of sexuality right now?
A very hostile political climate, with half of the country being very anti everything that has to do with sex. In my primary profession as a researcher, this often means lack of funding for sex studies, ethics committees refusing to approve sex research studies, university departments not willing to bring in professors who study and teach sex, etc.

Another major challenge is the ambivalence our culture has about sexuality. On one hand, it’s highly encouraged, on the other hand, it’s highly suppressed.

4. What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable positive changes that have been made in the world of sexuality in the past year?
5. Why do you feel it is important to bring this topic “Mostly Straight”: A New Sexual Orientation Group and Is Casual Sex Bad for You? It Depends to CatalystCon East?
Mostly heterosexuals are a completely ignored sexual orientation group, in research, in clinical practice, in everyday life. Yet, recent studies show that they are a distinct group in terms of their sexual orientation, and more critically, they have increased vulnerabilities in terms of mental and physical health when compared to completely heterosexuals. Raising awareness about this group among the public beyond the halls of academia, and particularly among other sex educators, is critical.

Whether casual sex is bad for people’s health is a highly contested topic, both among academics and non-academics. Stereotypes, fears, and myths abound, but there is now substantial amount of science to provide some answers. Given the number of young people who engage in casual sex these days, being aware of these insights has important practical implications for people’s own lives.

6. Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself
I’m addicted to popcorn.

 

Learn more about all our amazing speakers here. Register for CatalystCon East here.

Feb 252014
 

Adrial Dale is presenting Living With An STI. Check out Adrial’s bio here.
 

Adrial Dale

1. How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

I help people integrate genital herpes into a healthy, happy and normal life. Shame from herpes and shame in general often has people feeling isolated. When someone is able to clear shame they not only have more love and acceptance for themselves, they have more love and acceptance for others. When people heal themselves they heal the world. Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than supporting that process.

2. Who or what was a catalyst for you?

Specifically? Genital herpes. When I got genital herpes, I was devastated. I believed my life was over and that no one would ever want me. For many years, I convinced myself that I was unlovable. But what I realized after years of suffering was that herpes was simply the magnifying glass to show me all the ways I hadn’t been accepting myself already (way before getting herpes). Herpes was the catalyst that had me start looking deeply inside myself for what was lovable and worthy about me. What I discovered has me inspired to help others tap into their own lovability and worthiness. That’s why I created the Herpes Opportunity. Now it is a thriving community of people supporting one another toward openness and love.

3. What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in the field of sexuality right now?

Sexual shame is quite a challenge. Shame in general is the biggest source of disconnection. And more specifically, sexual shame cuts us at our very core — it disconnects us off from ourselves first, then others. Our sexuality is so vulnerable. So when STDs (or anything else tied to sex) is wrapped in shame, it creates entire communities of people who feel unworthy and unlovable at their most vulnerable place, at the core of their beings. And shame has us not talking about the things that deserve to be talked about. And ironically, the more we talk openly about everything — sometimes even the most shameful of things — the more open we all become and the more connected we tend to feel.

4. What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable positive changes that have been made in the world of sexuality in the past year?

The most important shift is the increasing openness around discussing sexuality in general. The fact that a conference like CatalystCon even exists where a whole community of sex-positive people can gather and talk openly about such a vulnerable thing as sex is powerful. The antithesis of shame is sharing ourselves in the light of openness and acceptance. I see that here with CatalystCon. And that is inspiring and enlivening to me.

5. Why do you feel it is important to bring this topic Living With An STI to CatalystCon East?

Because STDs (and especially herpes) are those “don’t you dare talk about THAT” kind of topics in many circles. Why so much avoidance? The fact is that STDs exist. Let’s talk about them, along with all the beauty that sex offers as well. It’s just a part of the whole, but a part that has been left out of many conversations. And the less we talk about STDs, the more shame and stigma pervades them, then the less likely they will be talked about — it’s a vicious circle. The more we DO talk about STDs and have open, shameless talks around sexuality (in all its beauty and its inherent risks), the more connected we can all be. Sex is a vehicle for connection. And having honest, vulnerable discussions with potential sexual partners only serves to connect us on a deeper, more human level. It’s so important.

6. Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself.

I absolutely LOVE anything to do with balance, whether it’s balancing on my hands or walking on a slackline. There’s something super cool about it that captivates my mind and body. Balancing is my form of meditation, of re-connecting to my body. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s so fun, too! I guess I’m either a human-like monkey or a wannabe circus performer.

 

Learn more about all our amazing speakers here. Register for CatalystCon East here.

Feb 222014
 

Davis is presenting Top 10 Myths About Business (and the Truth). Check out Davis’s bio here.
Davis

1. How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

The greatest compliment I ever receive is when people don’t believe I’m a lawyer. That unconventional lawyer life, from the clients I choose to work with to my appearance to my belief that the smallest business or individual deserves every bit of legal attention that a giant corporation gets, those are my “catalyst for change” actions.

2. Who or what was a catalyst for you?

My kids (10 and 5) are a catalyst for me. As I grew up I knew there were things my father loved to do but didn’t pursue as his career because he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to provide for our family. When I made the leap to working for myself and creating the career I wanted, working with the clients I wanted to work with, I was inspired by my kids, and the desire to not only tell them they can do whatever they set their mind to, but to show them.

3. What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in the field of sexuality right now?

I think any attempt to control other’s bodies is of vital concern to those who promote healthy sexuality, so the recent attempts all over the US to regulate bodies (particularly bodies that might carry a child) is of huge concern to me.

4. What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable positive changes that have been made in the world of sexuality in the past year?

I love seeing sexuality coming into the mainstream. I know people scoff at things like the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey, or luxury vibrators being covered by national news, but any time someone can feel more comfortable exploring what makes them happy in a shame-free setting, I think that’s a great step forward.

5. Why do you feel it is important to bring this topic Top 10 Myths About Business (and the Truth) to CatalystCon East?

One of my favorite things is educating small business owners and freelancers on what they need to know legal wise. To cut through the “so and so said” or “I read on the internet” and get them accurate easy to digest information. This session at Catalyst is always a great place to do that, and I often learn a ton too, as it’s interactive and always has great questions from attendees!

6. Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself

I went to Catholic school all the way through high school. Maybe you can tell that though by the fact that I like talking about sex.

 

Learn more about all our amazing speakers here

Feb 202014
 

Del Tashlin is presenting “The Body Spiritual: Sacred Sex Basics for Educators, Sexuality Professionals, and More”. Check out Del’s bio here.

 

Kate McCombs

1. How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

As a priest and shaman dedicated to Gods of Productive Destruction, change mostly follows me around like Pig Pen’s cloud of dirt. “Harbinger of Change” is one of my sacred titles, in fact. But all that woo-woo stuff aside, I make myself available to many, spiritual and not, who feel stuck in life and need something to jar them from their daily rut and remember why they do what they do…or remember that it’s time to mix things up to keep life interesting and fulfilling.

On a more personal note, I am always looking for the small changes spaces and events can make in order to be just a little more comfortable for people. Whether it turns out to be unisex bathrooms or wheelchair accessibility or even just inclusive language or imagery in their advertising, I push through the cautious hesitation that change causes in most, and hold hands until the change proves to be the good thing I always believed it could be.

Another thing that helps me bring positive and/or needed change is that I still daydream. When was the last time you took an untimed stretch and just let your mind imagine? Or even just dump all the little ideas and reminders and other things that get crowded out between podcasts, streaming media, commuting, ebooks, television, mp3 players, etc? So many of my meditation students complain their brains won’t shut up, but that’s because we rarely take the time to listen! Even five minutes of intentional breathing a day can reawaken your child-like ability to see things that need your personal , powerful touch.

2. Who or what was a catalyst for you?

Admitting I was sick. That happened twice, actually. The first time was when I found myself in a psychiatric facility because my untreated and much-denied mental illness had overrun my life. I found myself stripped of all of my facades and underneath that, a much different and more powerfully focused person had been waiting all along to come forth. It took me a very long time to bring that person forward, and in some ways I will always be engaged in that act.

The second time was when a doctor made it clear to me that I was chronically (physically) ill and that it was very likely never to “get better”. I had been forced onto an incredibly unhealthy diet that caused a great deal of malnutrition; and the deprivation of necessary minerals and vitamins caused irreversible nerve, metabolic, muscular, and neurological damage. (And before you ask, yes, this was prescribed and overseen by a doctor who thought weight loss was more important than general health.) I grieved the loss of the functional body that I had when I entered into this chrysalis; and then I built a new existence that celebrates the body I have today, and appreciates what I can accomplish today but never takes tomorrow for granted.

There have been a great deal of Guides, alive and not, human and not, aware and not, who stood steadfast with me while I rebuilt myself over and over again. Some names you might recognize include my “Elder Sibling” Kate Bornstein, Transsexual Emperor Raven Kaldera, fellow wheelie Nancy Mairs, queerly disabled Eli Clare, gentlebutch author S. Bear Bergman, and fellow needle-shaman Wintersong Tashlin. I haven’t met all of them (and when I met Bear I totally embarrassed myself!), but they were all incredibly influential in times when I needed solace and inspiration.

My mother, Bette Laughlin, passed away in December of 2013. She was one of the most inspirational and spiritually engaged people I have ever or will ever know. I am in her forever debt for the way she encouraged me simply by living her life the way she did. She really motivated me from an early age to build my life on a spiritual foundation, and to use that to undertake social justice issues that needed that kind of strength. She also suffered from a chronic illness, and gave me an infinite amount of knowledge and support when I had to change the way I moved in the world – including in the bedroom.

3. What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in the field of sexuality right now?

Everybody has sex, and that’s okay.

It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? But it has been my experience, many times over, that it is not as simple as it may seem. Because “everyone” inevitably includes some sect of the human race whose sexual practices bothers the hell out of you. Think I’m being hyperbolic? I’ve worked for developmentally disabled adults who show awareness of the meaning and consequences of sexual activity in gaining the simple right of touching another consenting adult’s genitals. Standing up for couples who chose not to engage in any sexual activity before marriage when they ask for information and are teased or ridiculed for not knowing it at their age. Encouraging virgins over the age of 25 to stick to their beliefs, rather than give in because it feels hopeless. Advocating for a child’s right to factual information about sex and procreation without using cooing nicknames or confusing them with the mating habits of other species; including listening to them nonjudgementally when they share their sexual experiences with me. Or asking “forward thinking” sex publications to include physically different bodies in their work without their difference being the “point” of the inclusion. Just, a sexy amputee posing here, a rounded body caressed there, a non-binarily gendered hole getting reamed over there. No big hunter-orange arrows or magenta headlines blaring “Even Fat Guys Like Blow Jobs, See?”

4. What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable positive changes that have been made in the world of sexuality in the past year?

I am excited that trans* and queer identified people of leather are finding and creating spaces that meet their needs as well as challenge and educate cisgender and traditionally gay/lesbian leather communities to be more inclusive. The incredible show of support when an international leather contest tried to ban trans* contestants and was blasted with criticism and shame for it lead to the contest owners quickly changing their minds in a matter of weeks.

There have been some quality coverage in mainstream media about how the problematic depiction “50 Shades of Gray” gives of BDSM should not be used either as a handbook to power dynamics, nor should people who aren’t involved in kink judge those who are by the standards in a piece of fanfiction. There is a legitimate place for fantasy-based erotica that goes places real world relationships and bodies cannot, as long as it is clear that what is being described is a “fantasy”, and not representative of lived reality.

Lastly, I have been seeing a steady growth of sex and/or kink spaces actively welcoming and creating space for those who may want to explore the intersection of kink and spirituality. It’s not a new concept, but it has gone from being mostly a niche subject to equal ubiquitousness with Flogging 101 at regional and national events. I have also witnessed a much wider range of workshops and rituals that stretch beyond a focus on catharsis and ordeal, and include newer topics like spiritual celibacy, sexual energy or orgasm as a devotional offering, and sexual congress with Deity. This new horizon goes far beyond eastern practices like Tantra, and speaks to a wide range of religious/spiritual traditions including the Abrahamic faiths, British-inspired dualistic witchcraft, modern shamanism, and reconstructionist polytheisms. It really is an exciting time for exploring sacred sexuality in ways that speak personally to seekers, allowing them to visualize this kind of practice without having to change their frame of reference for the Divine (or lack thereof).

5. Why do you feel it is important to bring this topic “The Body Spiritual: Sacred Sex Basics for Educators, Sexuality Professionals, and More” to CatalystCon East?

I mean it when I say in the description of the session that I am networking with a wide range of sexuality professionals who are being asked about sacred sexuality. From couples’ counselors whose clients wish to explore sex magic together, to professional dominants who are asked to represent a specific God or Goddess in a session, to kink educators being asked how the skillsets they teach can be applied in a spiritual manner, I get no end of fascinating emails and phone calls looking for my input. As a Pagan priest, I have had to learn a wide variety of different religious practices, because contrary to popular belief the word “Pagan” is an umbrella-like classification rather than describing a single theology. Pagans can, in turn, believe there is no God at all, or that God is in nature, that there is a force we call “God” that takes on masks or archetypes so we can better understand it, that the Gods from one specific pantheon (such as the Greek, Egyptian, Canaanite, African, or Irish) are the only “real” Gods, or that every God that has ever been recorded by man (and some who may not have been) are all separate and unique entities worthy of respect and worship.

What that all means is that my role as a Pagan priest who writes and speaks about sacred sex and kink has lead me to study not one, but myriad world religions and how they view the body, gender, sex and sexuality, sexual orientation, and all kinds of sexual practices. And in my work as a shaman, I must seamlessly make mental leaps between contrary worldviews in the course of a single day. I’ve been doing this work for almost 20 years now, and there are some foundational ideologies that can assist newcomers (and even old timers) understand the hows and whys of combining the sexual and the sacred. I’m eager to not only share what I know, but to hear from other attendees how they may integrate their spiritual and sexual lives as well!

6. Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself.

There’s very little about me that’s truly secret, but I bet a lot of people who know me would still be surprised to learn that when I was a young child, I was a model and an actor. Tons of Sears catalogs, a cough syrup ad, and I was even in a few national television ads (do you remember Dolly Pops? Or Holly Hobby?) I’d even made it through several callbacks for the lead role in the Broadway production of Annie. (I was called to audition because of the red hair, but in the end they cast a brunette in a wig instead! How dare they!) I did go back to theater in my late teens/early 20’s, and toured with productions of “The Wiz”, “Godspell”, “Les Miserables”, and “The Secret Garden”. I have only recently started singing again after a long hiatus, and fantasize about putting together a leather barbershop quartet!

 

Learn more about all our amazing speakers here. Register for CatalystCon East here.

Feb 182014
 

Dr. Rosalyn Dischiavo is presenting Orientation as a Living Entity. Check out Dr. Dischiavo’s bio here.
Rosalyn Dischiavo

1. How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

I try to be a voice that truly joins the academic to the experiential and the numinous. Our bodies are geniuses, and my mission is to call people back to their bodies in an effort to connect more deeply and meaningfully with intellectual ideas, whatever the content. Connection to sexuality and less fear of it allows for a livelier mind, less distracted by repression.

2. Who or what was a catalyst for you?

The Body Electric School was a catalyst for me. Diving into sexuality and spirituality with a very grounded, ethical group of people was very important to my personal and eventually professional growth.

3. What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in the field of sexuality right now?

I believe there is a dearth of good discussion between researchers and practitioners. So many therapists and bodyworkers are not plugged into theories being developed or studies being done. Researchers are often not plugged into the practical results or application of their work. We need good catalysts and good communicators who can get practitioners excited about research, and researchers excited about application and practice.

4. What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable positive changes that have been made in the world of sexuality in the past year?

New freedoms for same-sex partners has been very exciting to live through. Public exposure to polyamory is quite hopeful, even as we struggle with poor portrayals of it in the media. The attention to gender-identity issues is great to watch.

5. Why do you feel it is important to bring this topic Orientation as a Living Entity to CatalystCon East?

Sexuality is part of our ecology. If we don’t see ourselves as part of a larger whole, we become split with our world, and sometimes at odds with the health of the planet. Orientation is not something that we simply perform, or simply are, orientation has a larger purpose in the world’s ecology, and becoming aware of this may help us to become better stewards of this beautiful home we’ve got.

6. Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself.

I love to sing!

 

Learn more about all our amazing speakers here. Register for CatalystCon East here.

Feb 172014
 

Live Readings, Performances, & Recordings Set for D.C. Area Sexuality Conference, March 14-16

With CatalystCon East less than a month away, founder Dee Dennis is thrilled to announce the Saturday evening entertainment lineup for the event, which will take place March 14-16 in Arlington, VA.  Also making its debut at the conference is the CatalystCon Studio, which will feature live radio and podcast recordings throughout the weekend.

Saturday evening’s entertainment will kick off with Off the Page: Sex Talk with Carol Queen and Friends. Queen will host an evening of conversation-sparking readings from some of CatalystCon’s erotic writers, memoirists, essayists, and other artists.

“Thinking about curating a literary night for CatalystCon, I wanted to extend the focus of the panels and events, but also of the many hot and heavy conversations about all things sexual that the conference inspires,” said Queen. “I’ve invited some of my favorite writers to participate, and I’m sure that together they’ll create one terrific reading! This also gives me a chance to bring some of the energy of the Center for Sex & Culture to share with CatalystCon, since many of our readers are friends of CSC, have appeared there, and create the kind of discourse that CSC exists to promote.” The Center for Sex & Culture is CatalystCon East’s fundraising partner.

Following Off the Page, Mo Beasley will host UrbanErotika, a performance series that celebrates erotic love through poetry, spoken word, music, dance, and theatre. UrbanErotika is known as one of New York City’s most diverse artist showcases, and will feature a variety of performers, including some CatalystCon attendees. For more information on the Saturday evening lineup, visit the CatalystCon East Entertainment page.

The CatalystCon Studio recordings will kick off on Saturday morning with the return of Sex Out Loud Radio with Tristan Taormino. Following Sex Out Loud, the Studio will welcome The Whorecast with Siouxsie Q and Jesse James, Why Are People Into That?! with Tina Horn, and The Deeper Truth: Biographies from the Catalysts with Shar Rednour. The Deeper Truth is a CatalystCon-exclusive podcast created in partnership with Good Vibrations.

“I am so proud to partner with CatalystCon to record The Deeper Truth, a biography series that because of its subject is miles from average,” said Rednour. “CatalystCon is the perfect place to capture what creates the special people that motivate, educate, create, invent, study and in general incite others to take on the edge of sexuality. All of my work–fiction, nonfiction, video, Swirl Radio, even my early work of playwriting– is motivated and inspired by my endless and burning curiosity. I love history, I love knowing what makes people tick. Doing The Deeper Truth is my ultimate Curiosity Orgasm!”

For more information, including schedules and guest lists, visit the CatalystCon Studio page.

CatalystCon East will take place at the Hilton Crystal City in Arlington, VA. Registration is currently open at CatalystCon.com/register.

Speaker Spotlight: James Fleckenstein

 CCON East, CCON East 2014, Speaker Spotlight  Comments Off on Speaker Spotlight: James Fleckenstein
Feb 132014
 

James Fleckenstein is presenting Is Your Boss in Your Bedroom? Employer Discrimination Based on Relationship Status/Practices. Check out James’s bio here.

 

James Fleckenstein

1. How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

I’ve been advocating for freedom in relationship choice since 1998. I’ve been a leading voice for putting the facts about polyamory and other forms of non-exclusive relating before the scientific and helping professionals communities since 2002. I’ve seen a profound positive shift in acceptance in those communities, though much remains to be done.

2. Who or what was a catalyst for you?

In 1998 I was in therapy with a Johns Hopkins-trained psychiatrist who utterly refused to give a shred of credence to the notion that anyone could seek and sustain non-exclusive relationships in a healthy way. My inability at that time to adduce concrete evidence to break through his negation of who I was and what I wanted in life set me on the path of discovering and advancing the scientific evidence that supported my viewpoint. I’ve been doing that successfully for over a decade now. I guess I owe him a letter…

3. What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in the field of sexuality right now?

There continues to be backlash against the hard-won gains that have been made. There continues to be a powerful effort to pathologize behaviors that make some people uncomfortable under the rubric of “sex addiction.” “Slut shaming” is alive and well in many communities, and women continue to be punished and defamed for owning their sexuality and transgressing false boundaries erected around their sexual agency. Social pressure for “compulsory monogamy” has not appreciably lessened. Comprehensive sex education is still not available to young people in vast swaths of this country. These are just the tip of the iceberg.

4. What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable positive changes that have been made in the world of sexuality in the past year?

The tremendous advances in the recognition of same-sex marriage and the striking down of DOMA by the U.S. Supreme Court. The positive U.S. district court decision in Utah striking down the state’s cohabitation law on privacy grounds. The broadening public and media recognition of polyamory as a valid and acceptable relationship choice. The positive changes in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5 that removed consensual BDSM activities from the category of mental illness and their refusal to include “sex addiction” in the Manual.

5. Why do you feel it is important to bring this topic Is Your Boss in Your Bedroom? Employer discrimination based on relationship status/practices. to CatalystCon East?

In view of the strides made in legitimizing freedom of relationship choice, it is important to know and react to the hidden “poison pill” that many corporations and organizations have put within their “enlightened” domestic partner policies. An outcry is needed to shine the spotlight on this discrimination and seek to reverse it.

6. Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself.

I learned the art and science of grassroots political action as a staff member of the National Rifle Association in the mid-70’s to early ’80’s

 

Learn more about all our amazing speakers here. Register for CatalystCon East here.

Feb 112014
 

Lori Adorable is presenting Positively Negative: How a Sex Positive Framework Hinders the Fight for Sex Workers’ Rights. Check out Lori’s bio here.

 

Lori Adorable

1. How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

I straddle some uncomfortable divides. I’m a sex worker who’s passionate about sex worker rights but not sex work, a feminist and women’s studies major who feels alienated from most schools of feminist thought and academic feminism in particulr, and an outwardly respectable young woman who struggles with severe mental illness in a disreputable industry. I believe everyone’s social position allows them to have a unique ideological perspective, and I think I can use mine to illuminate some of the problems within movements and to bridge the gaps between them.

2. Who or what was a catalyst for you?

Whatever my feelings about sex work itself, I absolutely love my colleagues. They’ve taught me a lot, including what my voice is worth. I wouldn’t feel comfortable speaking in a venue like Catalyst Con if it weren’t for them.

3. What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in the field of sexuality right now?

Reactionism. The truth about sex, sexuality, and sex work isn’t the equal and opposite of prudish, conservative, whorephobic ideologies, nor is the truth “somewhere in the middle.” It’s on a completely different plane of reality, and we need to map it out accordingly.

4. What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable positive changes that have been made in the world of sexuality in the past year?

The Bedford decision in Canada (which struck down dangerous laws around sex work) comes to mind first.

5. Why do you feel it is important to bring this topic Positively Negative: How a Sex Positive Framework Hinders the Fight for Sex Workers’ Rights to CatalystCon East?

Sex work is such an important part of discussions about sex and sexuality, but in sex positive spaces, the ‘work’ part of it seems to get lost. I think it’s important to bring that back to the forefront of people’s minds, especially when those people are likely to make great allies, like the folks at Catalyst Con.

6. Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself.

I had a leading role in my 8th grade production of “Bugsy Malone” as Tallulah. For those who haven’t seen the Jodie Foster movie, Tallulah is (quoting my grandmother, who was trying to put a positive spin on it), “a lady of the night.” I had a show-stopping number about how “you don’t have to be lonely” that involved throwing my boa over the dads in the audience. I also performed in the 8th grade talent show with an excellent rendition of “Cell Block Tango.” Overall, a banner year for little Lori Adorable that maybe raises some questions about the administration at that school.

 

Learn more about all our amazing speakers here. Register for CatalystCon East here.

Speaker Spotlight: Kate McCombs

 CCON East, CCON East 2014, Speaker Spotlight  Comments Off on Speaker Spotlight: Kate McCombs
Feb 062014
 

Kate McCombs is presenting Living With An STI. Check out Kate’s bio here.

 

Kate McCombs

1. How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

Creating more opportunities for meaningful conversations about sex is one of my primary motivations for doing the work that I do. We’re all familiar with this paradox: sex is on every billboard while at the same time most people don’t have their basic sex ed needs met. I want to hear more discussion about pleasure and communication. I keep this intention in mind when I teach workshops, write articles, and when I facilitate Sex Geekdom events.

2. Who or what was a catalyst for you?

I have been fortunate in having several generous mentors in this field. My first mentor, sex educator Ivy Chen, was the one who showed me I could make a living in this field. She’s been a tremendous inspiration to me. Last year, I wrote a piece about her for National Mentorship Month.

3. What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in the field of sexuality right now?

I know that many people in our field struggle with getting paid for their work. When you’re working independently, it can be difficult to balance accessibility to your teaching while also making a living wage. I’m heartened to see that there are more sex ed entrepreneurs (like Francisco Ramirez) sharing their business savvy with the larger community.

4. What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable positive changes that have been made in the world of sexuality in the past year?

In the last year, I’ve noticed more meaningful and helpful discussions about consent cropping up. I’ve been reading an increasing number of examples of what “yes means yes” looks like and what actions we as a community can take to support consent culture.

5. Why do you feel it is important to bring this topic Living With A STI to CatalystCon East?

With one in three people acquiring an STI in their lifetime, the fact that there is so much stigma surrounding such diagnoses is shockingly out of step with reality. While there are many inspiring public health campaigns working to overcome stigma, there are still health promotion messages that use shame as the tool to spread awareness. We can do better.

6. Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself

My love for Star Trek knows no bounds.
Learn more about all our amazing speakers here. Register for CatalystCon East here.

Feb 042014
 

Coyote Days is presenting Sex Toys: Past, Present & Future. Check out Coyote’s bio here.

 

Coyote Days

1. How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

Having been at Good Vibrations for over a decade, I have had the unique opportunity to help shape our industry not only through our own selection but through product development as well. My career began in sales – both on the phones & in our stores – where I interacted firsthand with our customers. It was there I learned, in addition to many other lessons, that what is perfect for one person or couple may not be ideal for the next. It was these valuable experiences, along with my growing relationships with manufacturers, that helped us to curate our store offerings & develop our own line of sex toys & natural body products which our diverse customer base could connect with. We strive to make sure that the items available to buyers (and therefore consumers) are quality options – no matter what the price. Having the a quality $20 item is just as important as having a quality $120 item.

2. Who or what was a catalyst for you?

I was able to spend 6 months traveling around the UK & parts of Europe when I was 24. Though I was part of a school program for 2 of those months, much of the remaining 4 were spent alone. I spent one day on the edge of an Isle, staring into the sea as it stared back. Others wandering the borderlands between England & Scotland looking for Abby ruins. Some days I interacted with very few people. All of it combined showed me that the world I knew was so much larger & more varied than I had previously thought. That there was so many more life experiences & realities with longer histories than what I had been taught about. This time was transformative for me & much of who I have become is due to those hours/days/weeks spent alone.

3. What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in the field of sexuality right now?

With as far as our industry has come, negative attitudes towards sex, sexuality, gender & difference continue to create road blocks for our progress. Simultaneously we are seeing landmark rights being granted & striped away. In order to further de-stigmatize sexual desire & differences, our industry has to adapt & continue to find new ways to represent sexuality so that the diversity in sexuality can be viewed as the brilliantly positive thing it is.

4. What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable positive changes that have been made in the world of sexuality in the past year?

In the realm of sex toys this last year has seen continued improvements in product packaging & branding. More & more companies are moving away from mis-leading product images, & incorrect selling points. Rather brands are coming up with unique feeling-based campaigns to sell their brands & products.

We’ve also seen some manufacturers begin to move away from using plastics in their packaging. One manufacturer even eliminated all inner packaging so that almost all of the components can be recycled. I couldn’t say this is THE most valuable change but I think it’s a large step in the right direction.

5. Why do you feel it is important to bring this topic Sex Toys: Past, Present & Future to CatalystCon East?

To understand the present & in order to lay the foundations for the future – we have to understand the past. It’s easy to look at a sex toy & critique it. But that critique has more substance when it comes from a place of understanding it’s place in the evolution of materials, functionality, control panels, technology etc…

6. Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself.

When I was young my mother & I drove her van across country staying awhile in Arizona, Mexico & New Mexico where we lived on “the land” with a group of women, more than a few dogs & one other girl my age. One day my mother & the other girl’s mother went into town, leaving us alone with Lightning Elk (another woman on the land). Well… unsupervised, we ate a bunch of dog vitamins (no idea why). When Lightning Elk found out she tied us up so we couldn’t get into more trouble. And that, my friend, is my first memory of bondage play.

 

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